Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


it is worthy of note that he had an indirect share in the one
educational undertaking of any real consequence in Seventeenth
Century Germany. This was a remarkable reform of popular
education in the little State of Gotha, initiated by Duke Ernest
the Pious (1601-1675) in his endeavours to make good the devas-
tations of the Thirty Years War. The Duke was in thorough
sympathy with the new method of teaching expounded by Ratke
and Comenius, and took a keen personal interest in the schools
of his principality. To carry out the reforms he desired, he
appointed Andreas Reyher, a scholar of like mind to himself,
rector of the gymnasium of Gotha, and set him to prepare a
memorandum on Method with a view to the needs of the lower
classes of the gymnasium and of the ordinary schools. The work
was published in 1642 under the title of " School Method, a special
and particular report showing how, under the protection of the Lord,
the boys and girls of villages, and the children belonging to the lower
class of the population of this Principality of Gotha, can and shall
be plainly and successfully taught" The course of study, and the
methods of instruction prescribed in it, followed closely those of
the Vernacular School of Comenius. The children were to be
taught religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, singing, and useful
subjects like elementary natural science (including mensuration
and geography) and civics ; and as far as possible they were to
be shown the objects about which they were learning. The chief
new departure was in the definite assertion of the State's control
of education. A detailed time table was imposed on the teachers,
arrangements were made for an annual examination of the pupils,
and the attendance of all children of school age was made com-
pulsory under penalty of a fine. In addition, a number of model
schools were opened, new textbooks were prepared, and improve-
ments made in the status of teachers. The result of the joint
labours of the Duke and Reyher over thirty years was to raise
the educational level of the whole community until it became a
byword that " Duke Ernest's peasants are better educated than
noblemen anywhere else." With the death of the Duke, however,
this interesting experiment in State education came to an end,
and it was not till the appearance of a second Duke Ernest towards
the close of the Eighteenth Century that education again flourished
in Gotha. But in the meantime the demonstration the little State
had given of the great potentialities of national education had led